Forget The Negative Myths: You Can Have That Perfect Winter Wedding

We’ve all heard of a white wedding, but the expression can take on a whole new meaning when a couple chooses the winter season for their nuptials.

Believe it or not, winter is becoming more popular for weddings — and with good reason. White mountaintops and snow-covered scenery set a spectacular backdrop, but even no-snow locations can lend a magical and mystical atmosphere to any ceremony.


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 Despite this evidence, several myths still surround winter wedding dates:

  • Most couples believe that they cannot have an outdoor ceremony. While winter weather can be tricky, if your heart is set on creating a matrimonial winter wonderland, heat lamps and tents can help warm things up. Just keep the ceremony on the shorter side, and advise your guests to dress appropriately. Then you can all head inside for a reception toast of hot toddies.
  • Regarding the dress. Don’t automatically believe that long-sleeves are the only option. You probably won’t be outside for too long, so be brave and go sleeveless or strapless, and cover up with a warm shawl or a winter coat (and turn it into your “something blue.”) Also, consider adding white gloves, warm tights, and even fuzzy ear muffs. As for the groom, it would be a shame for him to have to cover up his slick tux.Instead, he can wear a formal black coat to coordinate with his attire. For an added punch of color, have him pick out a cool scarf that goes along with your wedding colors and style.
  • When it comes to flowers, of course, the cold season naturally limits a bride’s options. Some flowers, such as peonies, are available year-round, but it will cost you. But don’t think rows of poinsettias are your only option. Flowers such as roses, daisies and tulips are available all year from the right florist, and their price won’t break the bank.
  • As far as transportation goes, consider valet parking so that guests don’t have to walk far from their cars to the entrance. And have the number of a car service on hand at the reception just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.
  • At the reception, have a place for all your guests to put their coats and scarves. For parties of 50 or more, you’ll most likely need to hire a coat-check attendant to take care of your guests as they enter and exit the festivities. And make sure the entrance has a proper all-weather mat for guests to wipe their shoes to avoid slipping. If you’re having a tented wedding, definitely make sure you order heat lamps. Place them around the room, 1 lamp per 10 guests should be sufficient.

In the end, a winter wedding may not be bathed in warm sunlight, and adorned with the best fragrant blossoms, but there is beauty and meaning in a cold winter. Much like a marriage, there is a new beginning just ahead.


It’s Your Honeymoon — So Why Take The Same Tried-And-True Beach Vacation?

Couples who plan on tying the knot naturally start thinking about the honeymoon. It used to be that their first inclination would be to plan for a stay at a luxury hotel on a beach. But this is now a world where many couples have already traveled extensively, and they are beginning to search for something with a little more substance, and definitely something that fits their combined personality.

Here’s a thoughtful list to consider:

  • Cooking classes: Thanks to the Internet, getting comfortable in the kitchen has never been easier — and more popular. These days, honeymooners are feeding body and soul with cooking classes in destinations from Mexico to Thailand. Sessions often include market tours and tastings — and many incorporate wine.
  • Locavore: The concept of consuming within, say, 100 miles of your home sweet home, originated in restaurants. The idea is to source food, ingredients and experiences as close to the earth and local surroundings as possible. In addition to eateries, locavore is also a major trend at spas. Bonus: It is green living at its best.
  • Volunteer vacations: Tour operators are now offering packages that help honeymooners who want to give back in profound ways. The adventures can include monitoring dolphins, helping hatch leatherback turtles or planting trees in the Amazon.
  • Minimoons: With vacation time in the U.S. at a low (especially compared to European countries), these quickie getaways offer ample romance over a long weekend. Add a day on each side of a weekend and travel regionally to preserve prime vacation time.
  • Eco-tours: Whether it’s making a minimal impact on the surroundings, serving local fare in their restaurants or using solar power to run their electricity, eco-friendly resorts have proven that going green can still be totally luxurious. Modern couples love this approach, and seeding out “off-the-grid” resorts have a genuine, feel-good moments built in.
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  • Adventure-moons: With less emphasis on conventional fly-and-flop honeymoons, more and more couples are looking for a more adventurous and fulfilling way to start off married life. Couples start married life by ticking off bucket list items such as trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru, exploring once-prohibited Cuba or riding a Harley across the USA.
  • Unusual destinations: Rather than picking conventional spots, some couples opt for less obvious alternatives. For example, Montenegro or Malta rather than the Amalfi coast. Finding new parts of old-favorite countries is a growing trend, and gets you off the beaten path.

In the end, no couple wants something run-of-the-mill for their honeymoon. So get off the beach and the lounge chair, think outside the box and make profound memories.

Diamonds May Be Forever, But More And More Couples Don’t Go All Out On The Engagement Ring

Through the decades, time-honored wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside, and so to have the many expectations and rituals surrounding the engagement.

And that starts with the ring.

In Western cultures, the engagement ring represents a formal agreement to future marriage. Traditionally it’s placed on the ring finger of here left hand, because at one time it was believed that this finger contained a vein (the vena amoris) that led to the heart.

While this is a time-honored process that kicks off an exciting time in the lives of couples, it’s also becoming a potentially sensitive time given the cost surrounding this major milestone.


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It’s long been accepted that men follow the Three Months Gross Salary Rule. This rule stipulates that if a man makes, say, $80,000 a year, he should spend $20,000 on an engagement ring.

Another crazy rule is for the man to buy a quality ring whose size is equivalent to the age of the woman. For example, if the man proposes to a 32 year old woman, he should buy a 3.2 carat diamond engagement ring.

As priorities shift, those rules have fallen out of favor. More and more women do not want or expect their fiancé to spend that much money on a ring. In 2012, the average cost of an engagement ring in United States as reported by the diamond industry was $4,000, much lower than the three-month rule but still a hefty sum.

Today couples are making it a personal decision based on the importance of that ring to the fiancée. Diamonds and a traditional gold or silver band are no longer de rigueur, either. There are several affordable alternatives to pricey gold, platinum or silver. Some couples are using stainless steel, which is very inexpensive. It looks to any novice exactly the same as silver but it doesn’t tarnish and it lasts virtually forever. Plus, you don’t have to have clean it constantly. Mixed metal rings are also gaining favor, since the combination of gold and silver is more versatile and will likely match whatever other jewelry or watches you wear.

Remember a large diamond solitaire may look impressive in the store, but it may not be practical for daily wear, especially if the wearer is active. Plus, a grouping of smaller diamonds is usually cheaper than one big rock.

The popularity of diamond engagement rings grew after the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign after the Great Depression. One of the first elements of this campaign was to educate the public about the 4 Cs (cut, carats, color, and clarity). Then they introduced the slogan “a diamond is forever.” Ultimately, the De Beers campaign sought to persuade the consumer that an engagement ring is indispensable, and that a diamond is the only acceptable stone for an engagement ring.

Today, more and more couples know better.


The New Cry For Modern Brides: ‘Let them eat … pie … or ice cream!’

Throughout history we’ve celebrated weddings with a special cake.

Ancient Romans finalized their ceremonies by breaking a cake of wheat or barley over the bride’s head as a symbol of good fortune. The newly married couple then ate a few crumbs in a custom known as confarreatio — eating together. Afterwards, the wedding guests gathered up the crumbs as tokens of good luck.

 In short, our present-day wedding traditions remain firmly rooted in the past, but having an elegant, tiered cake is certainly not mandatory. And more and more modern couples have stepped out of the norm.

After all, maybe you adore ice cream, or envision a dessert table tilled with various mini treats, so guests can have a little bit of everything. There is nothing wrong with either replacing or supplementing cake with other desserts and sweets. Here are some fun alternatives to the traditional tiered cake:

1)            Cupcakes: This option provides much more flexibility. You do not have to worry about finding a flavor that pleases everyone. Instead, you can offer an assortment of flavors and fillings to accommodate all tastes. Not only are they delicious, cupcakes also act as great decoration for the reception. The cupcakes can be intricately designed with the colors blending well with the rest of the reception.


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2)            Pie: Ask your favorite bakery to help you bake fresh pies, or solicit the help of friends to bake them for you. Not only does the second option involve your friends, but it also may be much cheaper than enlisting outside help. Pies can easily be adjusted to fit with your wedding’s season and theme as well. One idea is to fill the pies up with seasonal fruits. You can even add whipped toppings or ice cream so that your guests can eat their slices in their favorite ways.

3)            A Candy Bar: Arranging a colorful, enticing buffet of candy treats is a trend rising in popularity. You can design the bar exactly to your specifications. You can buy commercial candies in large quantities or go more upscale and have a local chocolatier design custom, bite-sized creations. You can use the candy bar to complement the other decorations in the room because they can be specifically ordered in the colors you want.

4)            Ice Cream: An ice cream bar is a great choice, especially if your wedding is happening in the summer. This cool treat can please all of your guests, as they have the freedom to customize their own dessert. For an extra special treat, find a local creamery that can custom-make your own gourmet ice cream or gelato, perhaps using fresh fruit from your area. Another choice would be to hire an ice cream “bartender” to create ice cream masterpieces for each of your guests.

5)            Mini Bundt Cakes: If you like cake, individual Bundts are a small-but-scrumptious way to fill a dessert table. These can be baked a few days in advance and stored in an airtight container. They require no major decorating — they can be simply finished with powdered sugar or glaze, and sometimes a candied lemon peel. All of which makes them an easy project for a relative (with baking skills) who desperately wants to help.

Millennials Are Changing Wedding Traditions Right Before Our Eyes

Nothing screams “traditional” quite like a wedding. Flowy white gowns, luscious layer cakes, the dad-daughter dance; they all help define the celebration of marriage. Go to a millennial wedding, though, and you’ll find traditions being challenged and re-imagined.

All around the world, 20- and 30-something couples are not just bending the nuptial rules, they are re-writing them, adding nontraditional or surprising elements that show open-minded and innovative tendencies — inspiring the next generation of wedding trends.



Millennial brides are designing and planning their wedding to look less like it came out of a wedding magazine from 1988 and more like it came straight off of Pinterest, with the help of Etsy, and coordinated by high-tech apps that help streamline and organize the process.

Here’s what’s happening at millennial weddings across the country:

  •  Digital domination: Millennial celebrations are all about hashtags, Snapchats and digital downloads. Get used to it. Many couples encourage guests to post their photos on social media, and they’ve created their own self-designed Snapchat filters that include themes (perhaps a Hawaiian motif) that include the couple’s name and the date of the ceremony. Wedding hashtags allow guests to post about or from the wedding in real-time. Family and friends can capture those candid, priceless moments and relive them immediately.
  •  Creating themes: Personalizing weddings in the age of Instagram is about theming a moment for a unique experience. And with millennial couples taking on more of the financial load of their weddings, they feel more empowered to customize the events. Young couples love to create a themed party for a Friday night rehearsal dinner or a Star Wars-inspired after-party, a incorporate a favorite family dish as part of the reception menu. Even the music is very reflective, incorporating favorite songs into the wedding processional, or unique performances; bagpipes, a marching band, things that are a little nontraditional or surprising.
  •  Informal dress: Weddings used to always bring to mind formal wear: black tuxes, white gowns, groomsmen in matching ties and bridesmaids in satin. But today, many millennial couples opt for a more modern dress code. For example, some brides choose not to require matching bridesmaid dresses, instead having their “besties” wear skirts and tops or jumpsuits and rompers. No need to match. Other millennials encourage guests to wear cocktail attire; perhaps flannel shirts with bow ties or bohemian-style sundresses.
  •  Dropping traditions: Many millennials forgo the old-fashioned expectations such as tossing the bouquet or cutting the cake. Some even prefer not to have a bride’s side and a groom’s side at the ceremony, or seating charts at the reception. They want their wedding to be more social, and to remove the anxiety of arranging where people sit. At millennial weddings you often won’t see major alcohol brands or beers as young couples prefer craft beer or small-batch bourbons. And gone are the days of spending a few thousand dollars on a five-tiered wedding cake. You may see multiple cakes made of pancakes, or different flavored macarons. And because millennials love brunch, many ceremonies now occur late morning, with eggs Benedict and bloody Mary/mimosa bars set up at the reception.

In the minds of millennials, such changes aren’t meant to disrespect old traditions,  just to create new ones that fit more into a changing world. It’s up to the next generation to accept and adopt them, or create new ones of their own.

More And More Modern Brides Tattooing Their Ceremonies With Body Art

In a trend that to most seemed unthinkable just a decade ago, modern brides and grooms are stamping their ceremonies with ink — permanent ink in the form of tattoos.

 It makes sense, right? If marriage is indeed forever, then making a long-lasting commitment to your partner via a tattoo is the perfect way to pay homage to your lifelong love.

Tattoos are showing up at the altar in unique ways:

Tattooed wedding bands



Today’s couples find themselves not wanting to stick with the traditional wedding bands or wedding rings. Changing it up a bit with a tattooed wedding band or a design not only shows creativity, but commitment. Wedding-related Internet sites and blogs show couples getting full ring tattoos around their ring finger or creating a personal design to be placed on top of the ring finger that matches their spouses (such as a heart). These tattoos also save them money over the cost of traditional jewelery, and of course it cannot be lost or stolen like a real ring could.

The simplicity of these tattoos is appealing to most brides and grooms. A motif as simple as a tiny heart or script phrase can have meaning but is not distracting. Plus, couples can strategically place their ink inside of their ring fingers or on a not-often-exposed part of your shoulder.

Exposed body tattoos

A recent poll suggests that 24 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 50 are tattooed. Americans under age 45 are twice as likely as those 45 and over to have one (31 percent vs. 14 percent). And the number goes up as the age goes down: A third of those under age 30 have a tattoo (34 percent).

What’s eye-rising, too, is the gender gap: Nearly half of women under age 35 have ink, almost double their male counterparts (47 percent vs. 25 percent).

Brides who love body art feel it is an expression of who they are inside and out — and many want to incorporate that into their wedding-day look by choosing a dress that better shows off the designs.

Those who need to hide tattoos out of concern for more conservative family members go to great lengths to conceal them. That can be done through theatrical makeup, a well-designed dress or custom-made features such as sleeves, a light bolero made of the same fabric as the gown or a well-placed appliqué.

Temporary tattoos

Couples who love the idea of sporting tattoos on the big day, may want to turn to henna, a natural plant that has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wood.

Bridal henna is one of the oldest wedding traditions in the Middle East. Henna Nights have become a tradition even amongst young and more modern brides-to-be, and that tradition has gravitated to the western world.

Henna needs 2-3 days to mature and become darker in color once applied on your hands and feet. But remember, henna tattoos are temporary; they will fade away in a couple of weeks.

Traditionally, in some countries, the groom’s initials are hidden in the patterns. The groom must search for the initials on the wedding night, if he can’t find his initials he is expected to give a gift to the bride!

Planning Your Wedding? Be Sure To Factor In The Cost Of Tipping

Tipping is not considered obligatory, but it’s an accepted expression of gratitude for certain services granted. Just as we would never leave a restaurant without tipping our servers, those behind the efforts to pull off the perfect wedding should not be forgotten either.



 For potential brides and grooms, determining who should be tipped and how much that amount should be is often left to the very end — when they are already juggling dozens of other last-minute details.

 Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate this important element of your wedding:

  • Whether it’s one of the fathers, the best man or a maid of honor, assign someone the duty of handing out envelopes holding cash tips. Pay these either at the time of service (hair and makeup), at the end of the wedding (allowing you to adjust the tip to reflect the service), or at the beginning (vendors are more likely to provide excellent service if tipped before the wedding).
  • Traditionally, business owners of larger companies don’t get tipped — just their employees — but you can/should tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations. Small business owners should never be overlooked either, since their businesses are often run by just one person.
  • Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours exceeded expectations you can always give a small percentage of the total bill. Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners, but these are typically those with holding more opulent weddings. Remember, non-monetary thank-yous such as professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way, too.
  • If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re normally expected to make a donation to that institution, and tipping the officiant is also appreciated. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount.
  • When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.

Here is a general guideline for tipping amounts:

  • Bartenders: 10 percent of total liquor bill (split among them)
  • Bathroom attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
  • Catering manager: $200+ (or a personal gift)
  • Chef: $100+
  • Coat check attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
  • Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent
  • Hotel chambermaids: $2 to $5 per room; $10 to $15 if you used a suite as your dressing room
  • Limo or bus drivers: 15 percent
  • Maitre d’hotel or headwaiter: 1 to 3 percent of food and beverage fees
  • Makeup artist: 15 to 20 percent
  • Musicians: 15 percent of fee for ceremony musicians; $25 to $50 per musician for reception
  • Photographer/videographer: $100
  • Valet or parking attendants: $1 to $2 per car; 15 percent for valet parking
  • Waiters: $20 and up each (distributed by the catering manager)
  • Wedding planner: 15 percent of fee (or a personal gift)

Couples Looking For An Exotic Wedding Ceremony Turn To Lions, Llamas And Elephants

Exotic animals are becoming the new must-have for couples seeking that unforgettable “wow” moment at their wedding. Because when dreaming of a perfect wedding, nothing says love quite like a spitting llama or a roaring lion.

But not everyone is keen on this new trend. These wild ceremonies can lead to logistical and legal issues, and animal rights groups stand firmly against the practice.



The most elaborate “wild” wedding that made news lately occurred In Las Vegas, where a groom of Indian descent rode atop an elephant in front of the Bellagio, while some hundreds of guests (and curious onlookers) danced around Tai, the 4.5-ton animal thought to bring the couple good luck.

That glitzy wedding addition in the desert cost the groom $10,000. Most exotic-animal weddings do not go that far, but the red tape is still extensive.

When used for entertainment purposes, these type of animals must be licensed and monitored by the federal government. Owners of exotics must file a travel itinerary and ensure there’s enough distance between the animal and the public.

Although couples are drawn to adding animals to their wedding or wedding photos because they want to be different, a lot of cities, such as Huntington Beach, Calif., have banned the trend (the law there has been in existence since 2002). States that have also initiated this ban are Indiana, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York.

A way around all this is not to bring the animals to your ceremony, but to bring the ceremony to the animals. Zoos and aquariums can offer an inspiring, energizing and decidedly unique venue to create a memorable wedding. And, best of all, by supporting these institutions you’re helping them secure a better world for animals.

The San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park arrange ceremonies against a unique backdrop. Couples can get married against the backdrop of a vast savanna while herds of rhinos, giraffes, and gazelles roam in the distance. Or perhaps a lush tropical setting on the edge of a lagoon filled with rare birds and plant life. If they want elephants they can do that, too. The Denver Zoo also does brisk wedding business. And in Cincinnati, the Newport Aquarium allows couples to rent out penguins for their nuptials

If all that sounds too elaborate, couples can have their own pets stand in as the guests of honor. Or pets can have a specific role (ring bearer or flower girl are common) in the ceremony.

But before giving your pets a starring role, think about whether this will be an enjoyable experience for them. Will they feel comfortable around your guests? Are they obedient and well behaved? After all, you wouldn’t want wild animals ruining the biggest day of your lives.

From Beach Themes To Wine Smoothies, Here Are Some Hot Summer Wedding Trends

Whether you’re tying the knot yourself, or your upcoming calendar is full of wedding invitations, here are some hot summer trends now that prime nuptial season is upon us.

New themes

Basic beach or garden themes are classic for the summer. Instead of a generic setting or theme, couples have elected to take the personal route. Couples are thinking of their favorite summer hangouts when planning their theme. Others honor their honeymoon destination. If a couple’s having a garden wedding and honeymooning in Hawaii, they could add orchids to their bouquets or fill the bottoms of centerpiece vases with black lava rocks.

Emphasis on the love story

Wedding guests want to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment to one another, but a new trend allows them to see even more into a love story. Couples are starting to hang up pictures as decoration during cocktail hour, producing a timeline of major events in their relationship. Some couples have even written vows as their wedding altar backdrop.

Bold wildflowers

Nothing says summer like wildflowers. Brides have found that completing their wedding décor with wild blooms really makes the day stand out and add extra dimension and color to the wedding photos. Brides like to extend that theme further by making up little net or satin sachets of wildflower seeds before the reception, and then handing them so guests can shower the happy couple (rice is no longer a wise choice).

Wine smoothies

In the summertime guests will definitely expect something cold and frosty, but margaritas and daiquiris can be a bit ordinary. Instead, couples have discovered wine smoothies. They are cold, frosty and pack less of an alcoholic punch than margaritas.   The drink consists of a fruity wine, blended with ice and fruits of your choice. Garnished with a couple of berries or fruit slices, it makes for a refreshing and unexpected signature sip.


Dynamic colors

Bright hues are hugely popular for summer weddings. Couples are gravitating toward sophisticated brights, and sticking with just two hues to keep the space unified. Rather than splashing color all over the reception space, decorators point couples toward one dynamic color for a strong statement — think all-pink centerpieces or bold orange table linens.

Laid-back music

For summer weddings, today’s couples seek to lighten up the ambience, choosing a pianist or string trio for a formal cocktail hour, but also thinking about alternative summery music styles. A laid-back vibe can be created with steel drums or a singer accompanied with a ukulele. Receptions will heat up the evening with sultry sounds, incorporating classic swing or big band music to provide an upbeat tempo.

Beyond wedding cake

White wedding cakes are popular for every season, and of course, chocolate always reigns for groom’s cakes. But with cake bakers nowadays offering so many delectable flavors and fillings, couples are moving toward seasonal selections. It’s easy to become inspired by the summer flavors we loved as children. Think fresh strawberries and whipped cream filling for a strawberry shortcake-style wedding cake, or a citrus-infused filling like key lime, lemon, or orange vanilla buttercream that honors a summertime fruit. Couples are hiring ice cream trucks to arrive at the end of the night to provide summertime favorites.

From Wearing White To Obnoxious Smartphone Behavior, The Top DONT’S For Wedding Guests

Weddings are steeped in tradition and etiquette, with centuries-old rituals that define proper decorum for guests. Some are more obvious than others. Now that we’re heading into prime wedding season, here is a list of the Top 8 DONT’S to keep in mind when you attend your next wedding.

Please don’t:

Wear white: This one should be a no-brainer, but please don’t be that girl who upstages the bride. You’ve got a million color combinations to choose from; you don’t need to wear white. Even if the bride isn’t wearing white, that doesn’t mean you can. This is her day, after all.

  1. Crash the bride’s room: Friends outside the immediate bridal party love to crash the bride’s dressing room to wish her well. The gesture is gracious — but the timing isn’t. If you weren’t invited to hang out with the bride, wait to share your congratulations at the wedding.
  2. Misuse your smartphone: Common sense says that guests should leave their smartphone at home. From snapping photos during the ceremony, to posting pics of the bride and groom on social media without asking, guests with phones can be disruptive and rude. Memo: Switch your phone to airplane mode and just watch.
  3. Bring a date without permission: Unless it says “plus one” on the invitation, go solo. And no, do not call the bride and ask if you can bring a date. If it were in their budget, the bride and groom would extended the extra invitation.
  4. Assume kids are welcome: Because it’s considered bad etiquette, a couple usually won’t write “adults only” on their invitations. Instead, the onus is on you to interpret the wording on the envelope. If it’s addressed to “The Smith Family” or if the names of the children are listed individually on the inner envelope, you are free to bring the rugrats. If not, splurge for a babysitter.
  5. Bring a large gift to the wedding: The last thing the bride and groom — and their families — need to worry about at the end of the reception is figuring out how to fit all their gifts in the car. Save them the trouble by shipping yours directly to their home.
  6. Change your seat: Some guests sift through the seating cards to find out who is sitting where. Figuring out a seating plan is difficult enough having to deal with musical chairs (or requests for a change). Stay put.
  7. Drink too much. Weddings are celebrations and many guests get carried away with all the free alcohol. The bridal party doesn’t want to manage your lack of management, or face the embarrassment of a slobbery drunk acting like an imbecile. Watch how much you drink, and if you plan on letting loose, at least arrange for your own transportation.